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Clay County Community Progress Brings Applause

April 2018

Kearney Mayor Bill Dane (left) may look serious but he and other speakers had nearly 200 people laughing consistently during the March 23 State of the Cities. Dane's dry humor earned him the meeting's Zinger Award from EDC Events Committee Chair Jeff King.

A wide range of developments and friendly, even humorous competition between communities were highlights of the 2018 Clay County State of the Cities Luncheon on March 23.

Sponsored by the Clay County Economic Development Council, the annual event featured reports from representatives of Excelsior Springs, Gladstone, Kansas City, Kearney, Liberty, North Kansas City, Pleasant Valley and Smithville. Nearly 200 people attended the event at Harrah's North Kansas City Hotel and Casino.

A highlight of the event was the second annual Zinger Award, which went to Kearney Mayor Bill Dane for his good-natured quips about neighboring Smithville and Liberty, especially. Pleasant Valley Mayor David Slater also earned applause when he noted that “Pleasant Valley has its own wall, and the State of Missouri paid for it!”

Smithville Mayor Brian Fulmer started the presentations by noting a significant residential surge that includes both single and multi-family construction. Other achievements include the Second Creek Bridge Replacement, trail and pedestrian traffic improvements coming this summer and a one-half cent sales tax and bond question on the April 3 ballot.

For Pleasant Valley, Mayor Slater cited improvements in everything from the community’s Fire Department to business growth. A strong theme through his comments was the city’s strong sense of community and its rank in Missouri’s top 10 safest communities.

North Kansas City Manager Eric Berlin led with the regionally significant One North Redevelopment. This 64-acre project is re-imagining some of the most visible property in the Northland, the area southeast of I-35 and Armour Road once dominated by a massive grain elevator. Meierotto Jewelers has already located their headquarters there. Other NKC efforts include citywide infrastructure improvements to be completed this summer, including Diamond Parkway, the first separated cycle track in Metro Kansas City, along with private projects like the new Cerner Demonstration Center.

Kearney Mayor Bill Dane provided details on multiple school and residential projects. Kearney’s most dramatic news may be the 19th Street/I-35 Interchange that also includes major road improvements east and west of what will be Kearney’s second connection with the interstate highway.

Kansas City Councilman Dan Fowler cited a number of retail projects that are under development or recently completed, including Antioch Crossing, Metro North Crossing and Vivion Point. Hunt Midwest Business Center and Northland Park continue to grow as some of the area’s most dynamic industrial property, while the city is improving everything from roads to parks.

Liberty Mayor Lyndell Brenton noted recent success from the historic downtown streetscape reconstruction to the new Liberty Commons Center. He said the South Liberty Parkway Phase II is nearing competition, and Liberty and the Missouri Department of Transportation will soon begin the much-anticipated I-35/Highway 152 overpass reconstruction.

Gladstone Mayor R.D. Mallams discussed a wide range of developments, including continued improvements to its new downtown and highlighting The Heights of Linden Square multi-use area. Featuring upscale apartments, The Heights this summer will add the region’s third Summit Grill. Gladstone public projects include a massive rebuilding of Pleasant Valley Road and the opening of Hobby Hill Park this summer.

Excelsior Springs Mayor Pro-Tem Sharon Powell said that city will add features to its new community center, including an outdoor swimming area with an imaginative combination of elements like slides and separate areas for different interests. The historic community also continues to see diverse growth in both residential and business development, along with outstanding public development.

EDC Chair Rebecca Hill opened the meeting by noting that Clay County led all Greater Kansas City counties in job creation. Three cities –Smithville, Kearney and Pleasant Valley – are among Missouri’s top 10 safest communities. “I can’t think of a better place to live than in the Northland,” Pleasant Valley Mayor Slater said.

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